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Temporal discounting: the battle between present and future self

https://nesslabs.com/temporal-discounting

nesslabs.com

Temporal discounting: the battle between present and future self
Procrastination, overeating, lack of sleep... Temporal discounting is our tendency to favour our present self at the expense of our future self.

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Temporal discounting

Temporal discounting

We tend to pay attention to the present at the expense of the future. Our present self will eat an extra piece of cake, or skip a training session, or procrastinate and leave our future self to deal with the consequences. This is known as temporal discounting.

While in-the-moment decisions don't feel like a big deal, they add up over time.

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Your future self in decision-making situations

We all like to feel good about ourselves in the moment, even if it interferes with our long-term goals.

But instead of letting our present self make the decision, we need to bring our future self into the decision-making process to help us think about the future consequences.

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Using the power of regret

Emotions can be used in two ways: To understand the way we feel, and to use it proactively to influence our future behaviour.

Regret happens after an event. We can't change the past, but we can harness regret to improve our future by visualising how our future self will feel about the decision we make now. If you think that your future self will feel fine about the decision, then it is a perfectly valid conclusion.

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The 10-10-10 method

We don't always have the mental energy to visualize the potential feelings of our future self. In these moments, we can use the 10-10-10 approach.
Ask yourself three questions to help you project yourself in the future:

  1. What are the consequences of this decision in 10 minutes?
  2. What are the consequences in 10 months?
  3. What are the consequences in 10 years?

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Caring for your Future Self

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Acting upon the reality of who you are now versus who you want to become is an important part of caring for your future self.

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Remind Yourself to Think About Your Future Self

We get preoccupied with things that make us busy in the present and often forget about our future selves. Here are some ways we can help remind ourselves:

  1. Create reminders to make your subconscious think about your future self.
  2. Plan your days and set those days towards achieving something you've always wanted.
  3. Set bigger goals and set a clear picture of what they are and how you want to achieve them.
  4. Associate your future with the present.

Helping Your Future Self

  • Visualizing what you want your future to look like allows your mind to create a clear picture of who you will be or can be.
  • Allow yourself to experience discomfort in the present because it will only prepare you for future adversities. Not only will you feel prepared but you will also be able to adapt to whatever situation is thrown at you.

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Self-control

Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

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Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

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Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off

Every Decision In Life Becomes a Trade-Off

... and boils down to what we give up to attain something. Our mindsets are inclined towards pleasure and resistive towards pain. We normally like to think in terms of gai...

Good and Bad Decisions

Decisions are a cost-benefit analysis of risking something small for the opportunity to gain something big.

  • Good decisions can be: Exercising, meditating for 10 minutes daily, finding the courage and striking up a conversation with someone, applying for jobs that you may or may not get.
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Trade-offs and Life Values

Trade-offs are not something as simple as flipping a coin. Our values guide us towards what we want in life, and it is not the same for all. Example: Buying a house has a trade-off of mortgage for the next ten or more years. This is subjective and depends on what we value in life.

Indecisive people suffer because they don’t know their inner values and what they care about.